Outdoors , Tracking Animals

What is Tracking ?

Tracking is the practice of following animals , birds , humans and all living creatures to determine their behavior and whereabouts .

Tracking animals , but more specifically game , is an art and science as old as the first hunter-gatherers  . While pursuing game , early hunters quickly realized that each specie of animal left very distinct tracks and signs peculiar to every animal of that kind .

In addition to being able to determine what specie of animal had made the tracks , it was also quite easy to recognize the size , and relative speed that this subject was travelling at . Sometimes , experienced trackers , can even determine the quarry’s gender .

Also left behind by these animals are scratching on trees , scraping on the ground , fur and feathers and of course scat or droppings  . Trails and drag marks are other clues that enable trackers to follow these animals and to eventually identify this quarry .

This became a very important skill in the hunting and gathering of food .

Easy To Identify

Tracks, Mud, Dirt, Paw, Dog, Canine

By quick observation , these tracks are most likely dog tracks .The dog family – coyotes , wolves and domesticated dogs – will register their claws in soft , moist ground , sand or snow .

This does not occur in cat tracks , such as bobcats , lynx and cougar . Cats retract their claws to keep them clean and sharp as they are a very important weapon when conducting an attack on their prey . As you can see from these tracks below , there are no claw marks .

Paw Prints, Snow, Trace, Cat Track

Bird Tracks

Traces, Bird, Seagull, Sand, Beach

Birds will often register very clear tracks in the snow and also in soft mud along lake shores and seashores . This is especially the case with the wading birds but also with all wildlife the feeds on these soft mudflats .

Some Tips On Reading Tracks

  • Of course , the easiest way , to identify a track is to observe the creature while it is making the track , and then immediately visit the tracks it has made .
  • Many excellent books have been written on this subject and any serious quest to become proficient in tracking mammals , birds and other creatures requires a well illustrated field guidehttp://www.amazon.com/Animal-Tracks-Signs-Animals-Garden/dp/0785828672/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455034607&sr=1-2&keywords=Animal+Tracks+and+Signs .This is a very inexpensive book that will help you get started in your quest to better understand the fascinating world of Nature’s creatures .
  • Begin by breaking down the types of creatures that register readable tracks , such as mammals , birds , reptiles and amphibians . Also note that insects will leave tracks and other signs of their presence .
  • Some birds have webbed feet and some do not . This is a quick indicator of where they live and how they hunt for food .
  • Some mammals have hooves and others have paws . Usually mammals with hooves are plant eaters and mammals with paws eat meat , as in the cat family , however this is not always the case .
  • Gait describes how an animal moves and this results in very distinct trail characteristics .
  • Galloping , hopping , loping , running , trotting , stotting and walking are all gaits . This alone , is a very useful concept to learn in your early tracking education .
  •  Spring time , when many birds are actively feeding on the shore lines , provides excellent opportunities for observing very clear tracks .
  • Winter snows are great places to observe tracks made by mammals and birds .
  • Many mammals and birds are nocturnal and sometimes their tracks are the only signs of their presence .

Continuing Education

As you can easily see , reading animal and creature Tracks and Signs is an interesting activity to add to your knowledge of the outdoors . Please return again to this website as I explore many of these concepts in greater detail . Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated .

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